The Benefits of the USPS 2020 Tactile, Sensory, & Interactive Mail Promotion

Do you want to create awesome direct mail pieces that stand out and get results? Well now you can do that, and save 2% on your postage! The purpose of this promotion is to encourage sensory engagement with physical mail pieces, and it’s my favorite promotion the USPS is running this year.

Do you want to create awesome direct mail pieces that stand out and get results? Well now you can do that, and save 2% on your postage! This USPS promotion runs from Feb. 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020, and all eligible pieces can claim the discount. The purpose of this promotion is to encourage sensory engagement with physical mail pieces, and it’s my favorite promotion the USPS is running this year. Why? Because only direct mail can provide a tactile experience — no other marketing channel can do this.

There are three featured categories in this promotion:

Specialty Inks

Qualifying inks may include but are not limited to:

  • Conductive inks: Inks with a circuit that can be used to activate an electronic device. Users press a “button” to activate lights, sound chips, or other electronic sensors and components.
  • Leuco Dyes/Thermochromics: Heat sensitive dyes or inks change color in variation in temperature.
  • Photochromic: Changes color with UV light exposure.
  • Optically Variable Ink: Contains metallic materials that change appearance when viewed from different angles.
  • Piezochromic: Change appearance under pressure.
  • Hydro chromic: Change appearance when exposed to water or liquids.

Each of these inks are very unique and interactive. They can make your mail piece fun for your customers and prospects.

Specialty Paper

The specialty paper must have one or more treatments such as scent, sound, taste, visual and/or textural. They must be connected to the marketing message on the piece.

  • Scent: Paper infused with scent such as catnip, fresh bread, or bubble gum, and grass.
  • Sound: Paper that incorporates sound chip or speakers.
  • Taste: Paper that incorporates edible components.
  • Visual: Paper that incorporates special effects such as filters, holographic, or lenticular.
  • Textural: Paper that incorporates textural treatments. Paper surfaces may be coated, or made of unique materials or incorporate techniques such as embossing or other surface treatments like sandpaper or soft touch.

I don’t think that using taste on a self-mailer is a good idea, but if you have a message that is best conveyed with taste you can enclose the piece in an envelope to keep it clean. On the other hand, I really love soft touch, I can’t help but to keep petting the mail piece. There are so many coating you can use for a wide range of different experiences.

Interactive Elements

The mail piece must include an experience that engages the recipient and adds dynamic effects in order to benefit from the promotion. Some examples are:

  • Infinite Folds: These fun folds provide a message at each turn of the fold and are usually folded through at least twice as they drive curiosity. Check out an example.
  • 3-Dimensional: These can be really unique and drive interest. As they are not flat pieces of paper but all kinds of things in boxes or tubes. Check out some examples.
  • Pop-ups: These mailers are fun and a little scary. They deliver flat and when you open them the pop up into a form. Check some out examples.

My two favorites from this group are the infinite folds and pop-ups. There are so many ways you can create interactive mail pieces.

You are only able to claim this discount for presorted standard and nonprofit letters and flats First class, presorted first class, bound printed matter, periodicals, and media mail do not qualify. All mail pieces must be submitted via USPS mail to the TSI Promotion Office for review and approval no later than one week prior to the mailing date. You can get all the requirements here.

Are you ready to get started?

Linger Longer: A Branding Imperative

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language,” wrote Henry James. I couldn’t agree more. I just love summer. Summer is the time for a new speed. For sauntering and slowing down. For purposefully stretching those extra long afternoons into all sorts of pleasurable outdoor activities like gardening or grilling or just unscheduled hammock time. For three- or four-day long weekends spent with family and friends or just catching up with yourself. For easy everything.

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language,” wrote Henry James. I couldn’t agree more. I just love summer. Summer is the time for a new speed. For sauntering and slowing down. For purposefully stretching those extra long afternoons into all sorts of pleasurable outdoor activities like gardening or grilling or just unscheduled hammock time. For three- or four-day long weekends spent with family and friends or just catching up with yourself. For easy everything.

I think brands have a lesson to learn from this time of the year. Summer is the season that encourages lingering. Brands that consciously create space and time for customers to linger within their brand experience win their hearts. Grant it, sometimes you want to dash into a store (or website), hunt down your purchase and leave promptly. Other times, a store, a site, an atmosphere is so compelling you want to linger and linger and linger some more.

Terrain is one of those kinds of places. It’s part of the Urban Outfitters family of creative retailers whose stated goal is “to offer a product assortment and an environment so compelling and distinctive that the customer feels an empathetic connection to the brand and is persuaded to buy.”

Terrain was designed purposefully for leisurely strolls through all its “mini-terrains”—eclectic little rooms and areas that beckon customers with all sorts of indoor-outdoor lifestyle products the company hopes you’ll find irresistible. The merchant has waved its magic fairy dust over everything: meals, merchandise assortments and even Web copy to create a menagerie you want to somehow recreate in your own life.

Terrain has elevated lingering to an art form with experiential pauses built into its brand DNA. Both stores have delicious “farm-to-table” restaurants that encourage spontaneous long lunches and Sunday brunches, as well as scheduled events and workshops. Here’s the invitation the Terrain restaurant in Glen Mills, Pa. puts forth:

Share our local, organic meals with close family and friends as you create lasting memories in our charming antique greenhouse. Taking your personal style, interpreting it by our talented culinary team, and presenting it all in our horticultural setting, we’ll create a truly unique experience for you and your guests. We work tirelessly to craft an environment that aesthetically and gastronomically reflects the cycle of the seasons.

President Wendy McDevitt shared this in a Bloomberg interview: “Customers typically spend 1.5 hours browsing Terrain and that can double to three hours if they’re visiting the café and shopping between glasses of wine or lunch. The one thing you can’t get in the cyberworld is the tactile experience and that won’t go away.”

Lingering happens online as well as you stroll through their three main categories with simple teasers like Garden + Outdoor, House + Home, Jewelry + Accessories. Spend time on Terrain’s site and you’ll want to know more about Branches + Bunches or what’s in The Reading Room or what Wanderlust is all about. You are enticed by the plus and you aren’t disappointed. The Bulletin, Terrain’s eclectic, informative blog is like a gardening class, cooking class, landscaping class, and artist date all rolled into one lovely scroll you can’t help but linger on.

Does your overall product experience invite lingering? Is it a sensory, tactile experience? What unusual product assortment combinations might you create to entice your customers to linger longer within your brand?